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Auguste Rodin

The French sculptor and illustrator Auguste Rodin marked a turning point in artistic creation by revolutionising the art of sculpture. He created a style that went against the academic norms of the time, achieving fame and international recognition.


The first laborious steps

Auguste Rodin was born in Paris on 12 November 1840, into a family of modest rural origins. In 1854 he joined the special school for drawing and mathematics, known as the “Petite École”. He took the competitive entrance examination for the School of Fine Arts in 1857 and passed the drawing test, but failed the sculpture test three times in a row: his style did not fit in with academic conventions.
To provide for his needs, he produced decorative works in a number of studios and, from 1865, worked with the famous sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse.
The works carried out by Baron Haussmann and strong demand from the upper-middle classes stimulated the sculpture market and the two colleagues produced a series of high quality decorative works.

The birth of the “Rodin style”

Auguste Rodin travelled to Italy to discover the masters of the Renaissance. On his return in 1877, influenced by the art of Michelangelo and Donatello, he produced his first great work: L'Âge d'airain (The Age of Bronze). Following on from this success he became a society portraitist. In 1879, Rodin confirmed his genius with Saint Jean Baptiste (Saint John the Baptist) and put an end to accusations of moulding of which he had been suspected. The Rodin style was born, in total contradiction with the academic norms of the time. His creations were close to naturalism through their anatomical precision, to romanticism in the cult of expression and to symbolism in the choice of titles. It is in fact impossible to place Rodin’s work within any particular current.
In 1880, the French government commissioned him to produce La Porte de l’enfer (Gates of Hell) for the Decorative Arts Museum at the Louvre. He worked on this monumental project up to the end of his life. After a trip to England, where he was introduced to engraving, Rodin sculpted the famous statue Le Penseur (The Thinker) in 1882.

International fame

In 1883, Auguste Rodin met the young Camille Claudel who became his pupil, muse and mistress. Commissions flooded in, such as Le Baiser (The Kiss) for the 1889 World Fair and the monument representing Honoré de Balzac. But Auguste Rodin never gave up drawing: he illustrated the original edition of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal in 1887 and published L’album Goupil in 1897, in which he revealed his avant-garde working techniques. His watercolours of Cambodian dancers (1906), for which he had a real fascination, were also an essential part of his creative work.

Auguste Rodin was an Officer of the Legion of Honour and a founder member of the National Fine Arts Society. He rose to international fame in 1900 as a result of a retrospective of his work organised at the Rodin Pavilion.
He died in Meudon on 17 November 1917, a few months after marrying Rose Beuret, his companion and model since 1864.


L'Âge d'airain, (The Age of Bronze) 1877
Saint Jean Baptiste, (Saint John the Baptist) 1878
Le Penseur, (The Thinker) 1882
Adam, 1882
Le Baiser, (The Kiss) 1886
Amour et Psyché, (Love and Psyche) c. 1907

Useful links

The Rodin Mueum

Auguste Rodin 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Prints and posters

Prints and posters Cambodian Dancer Prints and posters Dancing Figure - The Kiss - Woman from the back Prints and posters Cambodian Dancer Prints and posters Cambodian Dancer

Nationality(ies) : French
Born on : 12/11/1840
Died on : 17/11/1917
Profile : Designer, Sculptor
Artistic current(s) : Classical, Romantism
Theme(s) covered : Love - friendship, Art of living, Celebrities, Portraits - Characters